In a church I pastored in the Dakotas years ago, one Sunday evening after preaching a salvation message I invited anyone who wanted to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior to come forward so we could pray with them. I innocently used this phrase: “Let the blood of Jesus Christ wash away all your sins. Let his blood cleanse you and set you free.”
I noticed a lady stand up and start forward but then stop. She returned to her pew for a second or two, and then left the sanctuary through the front door. While we prayed with those who did come forward, she suddenly reappeared and came forward with tears in her eyes. After I led her in prayer for salvation, she looked up at me and said, “Okay, I’m ready”
I was so happy, I thought she meant she was ready to serve the Lord. So I told here how different her life was going to be. But she continued: “Go ahead. I’m ready.” So I asked her, “What are you ready for?” She looked at me and said, “I’m ready for the blood, go ahead and pour the blood over me.” I immediately connected her statement to what I had said earlier. I assured her that we don’t actually pour blood over someone. She was so relieved, because the reason she left earlier was she didn’t want to spoil her nice new dress. But once outside her conviction was so great and she wanted to be born again so much that she decided have the blood poured on her anyway.
When someone is that willing to yield their life to Christ, can you ever doubt their sincerity? But, it also taught me never to assume that everyone who hears preaching automatically understands all our churchy language. So I made up my mind that from then on I’d make what I said as clear as possible. So when we talk to people who are not church goers, who have never read the Bible or heard a sermon, we should not assume that they understand the language of believers.
The great theologian Karl Barth was lecturing at seminary in Chicago in 1952 when he was asked by a student if he could summarize his whole life’s work in theology in one sentence, Dr. Barth responded “Yes, I can. In the words of a song I learned at my mother’s knee: ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so’.”